- the pure and concentrated essence of a substance.
- the most perfect embodiment of something.
- (in ancient and medieval philosophy) the fifth essence or element, ether, supposed to be the constituent matter of the heavenly bodies, the others being air, fire, earth, and water.
Origin of quintessence
Examples from the Web for quintessence
That, America, is the quintessence of naturally occurring British-cute.UK’s No 1 Churchman Doubts Existence of God: The Archbishop of Canterbury Thinks Deep When Running With His Dog
September 18, 2014
The actor is the quintessence of smooth, first as Remington Steele, then James Bond.Pierce Brosnan’s Life After Bond: From Action Hero to Losing His Daughter to Cancer
July 2, 2014
In recent years, Stoner entered a category of which it soon became the quintessence.Famous for Not Being Famous: Enough About ‘Stoner’
October 31, 2013
Yes, Holmes was the quintessence of the Victorian rationalism, “the most perfect and reasoning machine that the world had seen.”How Sherlock Holmes Took on the Capitalists
December 21, 2011
“Innocence is the quintessence of the snapshot,” Lisette Model would write.Robert Frank's America
September 17, 2009
To the man of the world they are the quintessence of his own reflections upon life.Theaetetus
"This is the quintessence of my journalism; that is the supreme argument," he said to Antonia.Nostromo: A Tale of the Seaboard
The law of compensation itself is the quintessence of horse sense.Dollars and Sense
Col. Wm. C. Hunter
Adams was a quintessence of Boston, devoured by curiosity to think like Benvenuto.The Education of Henry Adams
They are the very breath of democracy; the quintessence of freedom.The Debs Decision
- the most typical representation of a quality, state, etc
- an extract of a substance containing its principle in its most concentrated form
- (in ancient and medieval philosophy) ether, the fifth and highest essence or element after earth, water, air, and fire, which was thought to be the constituent matter of the heavenly bodies and latent in all things
Word Origin and History for quintessence
early 15c., in ancient and medieval philosophy, "pure essence, substance of which the heavenly bodies are composed," literally "fifth essence," from Middle French quinte essence (14c.), from Medieval Latin quinta essentia, from Latin quinta, fem. of quintus "fifth" (see quinque-) + essentia (see Parousia).
A loan-translation of Greek pempte ousia, the "ether" added by Aristotle to the four known elements (water, earth, fire, air) and said to permeate all things. Its extraction was one of the chief goals of alchemy. Sense of "purest essence" (of a situation, character, etc.) is first recorded 1580s.